Black Rain

Electronic music for analogue electronics and two musicians.
Premiered 14 September 2018.

In the 1980s, great progress were made within chaos theory. These ideas eventually propagated to various art forms and then gradually disappeared into the periphery of experimental art.

In science, on the other hand, chaos theory has never disappeared. Descriptions of unpredictable systems can be used in everything from weather and climate to traffic and economy, and are an important tool for better understanding of these complex phenomenons.

Chaos circuits
Although artistic use of chaos theory gradually has been more peripheral in art, a lot of interesting work is still being done with this and the analogue Benjolin circuit is one of the best examples of the musical use of chaos.
Benjolin is a sound-generating circuit based on chaotic principles constructed by the Dutch musician and electronics developer Rob Hordijk. The circuit is basically quite simple. Two oscillators, a filter and a feedback system together give a very unique sound, which is further controlled by a random circuit that operates on chaotic principles.

By changing the variables of the circuit, we can put it in new states and create various patterns and sounds. Through these non-linear feedback systems, various forms of chaotic patterns are created which further branch out into new patterns and chaotic timbres.

In the composition Black Rain, I wanted to combine analogue chaos circuits with synthetic sound models based on rain. Rain as a sonic and climatic phenomenon was the starting point for the sound installation Electric Rain (2018). The distribution of the raindrops’ position, size and quantity are some of the many elements that affect how we perceive the sound of rain, and these were elements we continued working with in Black Rain.

The composition Black Rain was written in collaboration with Ernst van der Loo and is an electronic work based on sound and themes from Electric Rain. In Black Rain, rain as a sound phenomenon was reinterpreted through analogue sound circuits in a new electronic composition.

The chaotic nature of the Benjolin makes it particularly suitable for musical experimentation. Despite the fact that it has chaotic features, it also has elements that are predictable to a certain extent so that one can build up a musical practice based on the circuit.

It was these chaotic but reproducible processes we used to design the material that made up the composition Black Rain. In Black Rain, we combined chaos circuits and the mass events of rain sounds with the tactile way of working and complex sonic results from analogue sound processing.

Black Rain was performed on 14 September 2018 at Atelier Nord during the Ultima Festival in Oslo by Asbjørn Blokkum Flø and Ernst van der Loo.

More on Electric Rain:
Cerpina, Zane 2019. Electric Rain.
Gjessing, Mona Dorothea 2018. En herlig følelse (in Norwegian only).
Rudi, Jøran 2018. About the Construction of Electric Rain.

Kristin Kverndokk: Elektrisk regn. Spillerom søndag, NRK P2, 11. November 2018 (radio broadcast, in Norwegian only).

Photo: Joakim Blattmann Moldestad.